The Fox (Riders of War - book one)

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Chapter Fifteen


On Wednesday morning I am woken up with a pounding on my door. I try to ignore it but whoever it is won’t let up.

Giving up on trying to go back to sleep. I throw my blankets away from my body and brace myself for the cold floor against my feet. I shuffled sluggishly to the door. I never have visitors so I didn’t know who could possibly be at the door.

Behind the door is a young woman holding files with a notebook and pen. “Can I help you?” I ask. The woman is stylishly dressed and I’m standing here in old pyjamas with my hair in a messy bun.

Honestly sums up my life. I have always felt like everyone else has their life together and I’m just here. I’ve always been more confident in jeans and a top than in a dress. I am more of a ‘see what happens and hope for the best’ kind of person. Or at least try to be.

“Bella Hurst?” She looks me up and down. Is she really judging me? I raise an eyebrow and plaster a fake smile on my face.

It’s the only way to cope with the judgement. “Yes.”

“My name is Rebecca I’m a reporter at the Riverside Daily News.” I shift my weight from one foot to the other. What would the daily news want with me? “I was wondering if you could give us some insight into the animal attacks?”

“What would I know about the animal attacks?” I don’t understand what any of this has to do with me. I have no connection to the attacks and I don’t think anyone knows about Emily.

This woman shows up unannounced and expects me to be open with her. I don’t have much of a social life so I know not many people know me.

The woman, Rebecca, opens the notebook, ready to write. What the hell is going on here? “Well you work at the local zoo, right?”

My eyes snap back to her face. She scribbles something in the notebook. Who even is this woman? And why is she here?

“I do,” I pause for a moment. “But, I don’t know how you could possibly know that.”

Realisation flashes across her face. “Well we went to the zoo looking for someone to interview.” She speaks slowly, carful of what she says. She was getting fidgety, scratching her head with the pen. “One of your co-workers gave us your name and address.”

I shook my head and frown. “Who gave you my name and address?” I step towards her. She steps back getting dangerously close to the stairs.

She struggles to speak for a moment before composing herself. “I don’t know, we didn’t ask for a name.”

“You keep saying ‘we’ who is ‘we’?” If I wasn’t confused before I sure am now. This is not how today was meant to go. I was supposed to sleep in, get breakfast from the bakery near my house, read a book maybe even bake a cake.

I don’t need some random reporter at my door at 7am. My neighbours are nosey enough without my name coming up in the paper.

“Just me and another journalist.” Frustration sits in the bottom of my stomach. Why did I have to open the door? I wouldn’t have to deal with this and irritation wouldn’t be growing inside of me.

I let out a low sigh. It’s not her fault, she is just trying to do her job. “Listen, I don’t know anything about the animal attacks. You’re wasting your time.”

“Oh okay. Thank you anyway.” Once the door is closed I take a deep breath. I can still have a nice day.

I drink my coffee by the window like I do every morning. My thoughts jump around from work to my family, from what I will do today to when I will see Emily next.

In just a few weeks she almost fully recovered. Well physically.

I don’t think she will ever emotionally or mentally recover from what happened to her.

I don’t talk to her about what she went through. I figure she would get enough of that from doctors and nurses. She said a few police officers have come to talk but she still can’t remember much.

Maybe that’s a good thing. She was so scared when I found her. I don’t want her to go through that again. We have spoken a little about how she feels. She is still torn between wanting to remember and being too scared.

Given everything I am so proud of how far she has come. I remember one of the first times I went to visit her she wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Now she is joking about my sex life.

She is like the sister I never had. When we first met I never knew she could become so important to me. Spending almost every day with her has helped me too. I have grown and matured. I see things differently now.

I think that’s why I was so mad a Bennett. I am realising what I want in life and am ready to say something if it’s not what I want.

I do want a family one day but I’m only 24 I have time. At the moment I just want someone that cares about me and is genuinely interested in me. I want to have fun and experience new things.

I know what my mother would say. When are you going to find a man and give me Grandbabies? She asks me that every time I see her. And then there is my father with his, What ever man you end up with has to go through me first. I know they mean well but God does it get annoying.

I do miss my family sometimes don’t get me wrong. But it’s nice to have someone like Emily who just seems to get it. I realise now how alone I was before.

I think that’s why I almost envy the Riders. They have this big community that looks out for one another. They all seem to care about each other.

That’s what I really want.

At 10am there is another knock at the door. Another professional looking woman is standing there again. I have a feeling I know who this is.

“Let me guess, you’re Rebeccas friend?” I cross my arms and prepare myself for another round of questions.

“Yes I am Kristen.”

“Look I am going to tell you the same thing I told Rebecca.” I look her dead in the eye. “I don’t know anything about the animal attacks.”

Well I suppose that’s not entirely true. I do know that the riders don’t think it’s animals. And I think that Emily had a run in with the person behind it. But there is no way I am getting involved in this.

“Actually I am doing a different story that I think you can help with.”

“Oh?” She is fidgeting and trying to compose herself. She seems to be unsure about the story. Perhaps she knows it could get her into trouble.

“I’m doing a story about the city and the dynamics.”

“Okay?” That doesn’t sound that bad. But I wonder what I have to do with the cities dynamics. In the 3 years I have lived here I have not been involved in any important city activities.

“A lot of people think that the animal attacks are linked the the Riders of War.”

Well that certainly get my attention.

“What? Why?”

“Well when ever there is a body the Riders always seem to show up.” Once she saw the glare set in my eyes her voice begins to shake. She struggles to regain her composure and refuses to look directly at me. “And I figured since you are hanging around them you may know something.”

I stop her right there taking a harsh step forward. “I’m not hanging around the Riders.”

“Really? Because I heard...” Ng

“Well I went to one party but that’s it.” I cut her off. I don’t need her getting the wrong idea.

I don’t know why I am suddenly in the middle of all this. What I wouldn’t give for things to be back to normal. But I suppose what even is normal anymore.

“Right. I guess it was just a rumour then.”

Over her shoulder I see Mrs Gibbs across the road peaking out behind the curtains. Well at least we know where the rumours started.

“I think it’s best of you leave.”

My attention is back on Kristen. She is packing away her things.

“And tell any other reporter to leave me alone.” I slam the door in her face. Once I slump back down on the couch I take a deep breath and try to proses what just happened.

Not even ten minutes later someone else is banging on my door.

“I swear to fucking god!” I jump up from the couch and march over to the door, again. “I don’t care who you are I just want to be left alone.”

“Oh.” I say once I see who is on the other side. Elizabeth and Amelia are both looking at me with an eyebrow raised.

“Expecting somebody else?” Amelia laughed.

“Yeah, I kinda was,” I relax a little knowing that they aren’t here to grill me. “Sorry, it’s been a weird morning.”

It’s then that I notice a little face pressed against the widow of the car parked out side. I couldn’t help but laugh at the boy who I recognise as Noah.

“We are going to the park and were wondering if you wanted to come with us?” Turning back to Elizabeth I saw the hopeful look it her eyes.

“I would love to, just let me grab my keys.” Grabbing my keys and purse off the kitchen counter I run back out to met them by the car.

Amelia being the smallest sat in the back with the kids. “Everybody buckled in?” Elizabeth asks as she starts the car. A small chorus of yeses are heard from the back and so we are off.

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